Eloise Head, 26, is a food influencer who has 440,000 followers on her Fit Waffle Instagram account.
Her pictures of indulgent meals cause people to repeatedly asking how she eats those foods but stays in shape.
Head, who is a qualified personal trainer, told Insider that there's no secret — it's simply about moderation.
"There are no specific foods that make you gain weight," she said — and nutrition experts agree that weight gain is simply the result of eating in a calorie surplus.
Head said she used to believe in "good" and "bad" foods, but through educating herself has since developed a healthy relationship with eating.
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Every day, food influencer Eloise Head posts photos of treats like doubled-up burgers dripping with cheese, gooey brownies stuffed with peanut butter cups, and stacks of pancakes piled high with toppings and smothered in lashings of melted chocolate.
But the most common questions Head gets asked by the 400,000 people who follow Fit Waffle (and her newly-launched cooking account Fit Waffle Kitchen) aren't about her recipes or favorite restaurants, but her body.
"The most common questions I get asked are, 'Do you eat all this food?' and, 'How do you eat all this food and stay in shape?'" she told Insider.
While 26-year-old Head doesn't post photos of herself that often, she shares enough for her followers to see that she has an enviable physique.
And the trouble is, many people believe that to look like Head, you can't eat any of the foods she posts.
Through going on her own journey with food, fitness, and her body, Head learned that this simply isn't the case — there's no such thing as "good" or "bad" foods, no single food will make you gain weight, and everything can be enjoyed in moderation.
There's no single food that's going to make you gain weight
Eating too much of any food, thus being in a calorie surplus and taking in more energy than you burn, leads to weight gain.
While some foods are more calorie-dense than others, that doesn't mean you can't still eat them and maintain or even lose weight.
"There are no specific foods that make you gain weight," Head, who is a qualified personal trainer, told Insider.
"Everything can be enjoyed in moderation, without feeling guilty afterward or feeling like you're moving further away from your goals. Even if your goal is fat loss."
Weight loss specialist and board-certified cardiologist Dr. Luiza Petre previously reinforced this point to Insider's Sophia Mistrokostas when explaining how even "healthy" foods like those prioritized on the Mediterranean diet can lead to weight gain if overconsumed.
"Calorie-loaded foods that have a healthy halo like avocado, nuts and excessive amounts of olive oil are very caloric dense and can pack fat quickly on your waistline," Petre said.
When it comes to losing weight, nutritionist Graeme Tomlinson previously stressed to Insider that "a calorie deficit is the only exercise required," regardless of which foods you eat.
"Ensuring you enjoy what you eat, and can sustain the deficit and mode of energy expenditure, you have a greater chance of consistently losing fat over time," he said.
Of course, eating lower-calorie foods will allow you to eat larger quantities while remaining in a calorie deficit, but it'll be a lot easier to maintain that deficit if you let yourself enjoy some of your favorite foods every once in a while.
The key is moderation
While Head, of course, enjoys the foods on her Instagram pages, she doesn't eat the whole tray of brownies in one sitting — she eats a portion. And this moderation is the key.
"I definitely don't eat the whole of everything I bake," she said. "I generally eat the bits I want, then share the rest with my family.
"Once lockdown is over, I hope to share it with my friends that live further away, too."
Head also points out that she has been running Fit Waffle full-time since July 2019 — the brand is her job, it's not a food diary.
"It's important to understand that Fit Waffle is my business," she said.
"The page is to showcase my recipes and foods I have tried from restaurants and food traders. The page does not showcase my diet."
She added: "I eat my food in moderation alongside a balanced diet and I stay active. There really are no secrets."
Head exercises regularly — but not to 'earn' or 'burn' food
Although Head works out a lot, she trains because she loves fitness, and not to "counteract" the food she's eating.
"I generally train five to six times a week for about an hour and a half. All my workouts are weights focused, as opposed to cardio," she said.
Each workout begins with a 10-minute warm-up, then stretching and foam rolling.
"I'm usually training to gain or maintain muscle and improve my strength and performance, rather than to lose weight," Head added.
She also walks every day, but mainly for her mental health, and just because she enjoys it.
She used to believe the 'good' and 'bad' foods lie
Head admits that she hasn't always had such a good relationship with food.
About eight years ago when she was 18 and at college, Head, like many people, decided to go on a diet before a holiday.
"I basically cut out all foods I decided were 'bad' for me and only ate foods that I considered to be 'healthy,'" she said.
"For example, I would allow myself to eat sweet potatoes, but not white potatoes. Anything like chocolate, cookies, or fried food was completely off-limits."
Needless to say, Head lost a lot of weight by eating very few calories of the foods she deemed "good," and said her blood pressure was very low. She'd even get a head-rush multiple times a day where she'd black out for a few seconds at a time.
"My friends and family started to voice their concerns about my weight, but in my eyes, I still wasn't lean enough," Head said.
"After my holiday, I continued with my 'diet' and lost even more weight.
"I had fights with my mum when I wouldn't eat what she gave me for dinner. I told her that I was being healthy, because I wasn't eating 'bad' foods and I frowned on her own diet."
Learning about macros helped Head change her relationship with food
Head's turning point came when she first learned about a way of eating called "If it fits your macros" (IIFYM), also known as Flexible Dieting, while studying for her personal training qualification.
Macros are the three macronutrients your body needs in large amounts: carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
IIFYM or Flexible Dieting is a way of approaching nutrition that's popular in the fitness community, and essentially shows you how you can fit any food into your diet and still hit your calorie and macro targets.
"This completely changed my mindset about food being 'healthy' or 'unhealthy,'" said Head." I could see foods broken down into their macronutrient values; protein, fats, and carbohydrates."
The more Head educated herself, the more she realized her goals had shifted.
"I did a lot of research and started to eat towards my goals, which were now to gain muscle and start putting on weight," she said.
It took Head some years of educating herself to get to a position where she felt she could relax and eat intuitively though.
"I tracked my calories and macronutrients religiously for about four years before I felt comfortable enough to listen to my body and enjoy all foods in moderation," she said.
"My relationship with food and my body is still not perfect, but I've come a long way from where I started and have gained a lot of knowledge along the way."
Read the original article on Insider